In this slim volume of 143 pages the author has managed to bring together some
forty-six verbal snapshots of life in the old Colonial Service in territories as varied as
the Gold Coast, Palestine, Cyrenaica, British Guiana, and the islands of the Western
In many ways this book is a complementary record to that presented by Sir Alan
Burns in his Colonial Civil Servant published by Allen & Unwin decades
ago. It has been written in a delightfully informal and amusing vein, almost in the style
of extracts from a well-kept diary, supported by some charming family photographs,
and many of the personal reminiscences will bring back nostalgic memories for former
district officers no matter in what territories they served. There is also a brief glimpse
of a D.O. as a "beach comber" in the Colonial Office!
Almost everyone will echo the sentiments in the final chapter in which Sir John
writes; "My career has indeed been a varied one, but on the whole it has given me
fulfilment and I would not willingly have exchanged it for any other", and "Indeed I
think that our colonial record is something which we can look back upon with pride
and for which the territories concerned should be grateful."
It seems churlish to add a small criticism after having enjoyed this delightful
publication so much, but the lack of an index is rather irritating especially when one
wishes to trace references to the names of familiar places or former colleagues.